Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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October 5, 2012

Five alumni to receive Goshen College awards for service

GOSHEN — During Goshen College’s Homecoming Weekend today through Sunday, the college will honor five alumni with awards for their commitment to the college’s core values, according to a press release.

Sponsored by the Goshen College Alumni Board, the 2012 Culture for Service Awards will be presented to John Driver, Class of 1950, of Goshen and Rebecca (Kreider) Pries, Class of 1966, of Cambridge, Mass. The 2012 Decade of Servant Leadership Award will be given to Grant Rissler, Class of 1999, of Richmond, Va. The 2012 Dr. Roman Gingerich Champion of Character Award will go to Keith Springer, Class of  1969 of Saybrook, Ill., and the Dr. Ruth Gunden Champion of Character Award will go to Sue Roth, Class of 1966 of Stryker, Ohio.

The Culture for Service Awards were initiated in 1989 and are given annually to honor Goshen College graduates who have made lifelong commitments to service. Recipients distinguish themselves through commendable accounts of service and achievements at home or in their churches, colleges and communities and the larger world, according to college officials.

The awards will be presented today at 10 a.m. in the Church-Chapel during convocation, with a reception following in the Church Fellowship Hal. These events are free and open to the public.

John Driver

Driver was given the 2012 Culture for Service award because he has responded repeatedly to the call to service and ministry, giving his energy to the development of global and Christian relationships and learning throughout his life, according to the release.

Driver demonstrates compassionate peacemaking in many ways as he thinks carefully about cultural and theological issues and promotes justice for “the least of these,” the release stated. He has traveled extensively to work for peace and advocate for the poor and disposed, particularly in Latin America, South America and Spain. Driver’s ministry has been shaped by what he has learned around the world, and his vision for Anabaptism reflects his global citizenship and Christ-centeredness, the release stated.

“No Mennonite theologian has had a greater impact within Anabaptist and evangelical circles throughout Mexico, Central America and Spain than John Driver,” said John Roth, Goshen College professor of history, in the release. “The profound simplicity and clarity of his teaching is legendary. But in addition to his scholarly accomplishments, John is even better known as a person whose very life — in his generosity, simplicity, gracious spirit and evident love for all God’s people — embodies the message of his teachings.”

Rebecca Pries

Pries will receive her award because of her work in founding the Adolescent Consultation Services in 1976, according to the release. The service is a non-profit mental health and social services agency that she continues to lead as its executive director today.

Pries championed the agency’s expansion to address the multiplicity of issues faced by court-involved children and families, such as trauma, substance abuse, behavioral disorders and cultural issues due to recent immigration, according to the release.

“What distinguishes Rebecca is the vision, dedication and incredibly hard work that she pours into her work,” said Dr. Owen Gingerich ’51, professor emeritus for Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and member of Mennonite Congregation of Boston, in the press release. “In many instances, the psychological counseling she provides keeps these troubled young people out of jail and places them in rehabilitation programs — a really strong case of conflict resolution. Clearly this is compassionate peacemaking in a fundamental way.”

Grant Rissler

Rissler will receive the Decade of Servant Leadership because he seeks to live the life of a global citizen, working to promote justice and peace, according to the release.

Rissler studied history at Goshen College. Following graduation, he worked for six months at Mennonite Board of Missions. He spent two and a half years in Mennonite Voluntary Service, including a year at Mennonite Central Committee’s United Nations Liaison Office, a year as an immigration paralegal in south Texas and a half year spent traveling around the United States and Canada by Greyhound bus to report on the work of Mennonite service programs. He earned a master’s degree in international relations and worked as communications director at the Faith and Politics Institute.

Among those who influenced his life choices and worldview, Rissler highlighted the role of his parents, Ed and Jean Rissler, who served under Eastern Mennonite Missions in Somalia and Kenya, where Rissler was born.

Keith Springer

Springer has dedicated his life to serving others, both locally and around the globe, earning him the Dr. Roman Gingerich Champion of Character Award, according to the release.

While studying mathematics and secondary education at Goshen College, Springer participated in basketball and baseball. He set career-scoring records for men’s basketball, finishing with 1,531 points from 1965 to 1969. Springer taught math and coached ninth grade boys basketball at Concord Junior High School in Elkhart from 1969 to 1971.

In 1971, Springer and his wife, Kathy (Newcomer) Springer, served for two years at the American School of Brasilia in Brazil with the Mennonite Board of Missions (now Mennonite Mission Network) as overseas mission associates. While there, he taught high school math and physics and coached boys basketball. In 2004 and again in 2011, the Springers traveled to Argentina to visit and share with churches of the Patagonia Mission Project. In 2012, they did volunteer work at Nazareth (Israel) Village.

Sue Roth

Roth, who will receive the Dr. Ruth Gunden Champion of Character Award, helped pioneer organized sports opportunities for women, striving to give them equal access in the athletic world, according to the release.

While studying physical education at Goshen College, Roth was a member of the Women’s Athletic Association and participated in field hockey and softball, as well as several intramural sports. After graduating from Goshen College, she taught physical education and coached in Middlebury and Stryker, Ohio, before returning to the college from 1976 to 1999 to teach physical education and coach field hockey, volleyball and track and field.

While teaching and coaching in high school, Roth worked hard to develop opportunities for girls, the release stated. She increased the number of sports to make sure every girl had the opportunity to participate in the sport she wanted, even though Roth was expected to coach all sports alone.

As a volleyball coach at Goshen, Roth was named the Hoosier Conference for Women Coach of the Year in volleyball in 1985, 1988 and 1989. She initiated the women’s track and field program at Goshen and promoted student athletes as commissioner with the Indiana Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. She also worked with Ruth Gunden in developing the Hoosier Conference for Women, which filled an organizational need for women in sport.

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